Sunday, March 29, 2009


There's some things that hurt more in ministry than others. It's inevitable that people will not always be happy with me and that attendance is a roller coaster.

It's a bummer that some students inevitably don't connect with youth group and try as a I may, they find it's not a place they want to be or just don't fit.

While I don't love any of the above scenarios, I've come to live with them as something that I can't always solve nor am I always called to solve them.

However, the ones that I can't seem to shake and that cause me to vacillate between depression and angst the most are those who simply leave my ministry with little or no notice- especially when I was heavily invested with them or they were on our volunteer team. I was teaching today on division in the family of God in our youth group and how it hurts God, the family, and the influence of the church in the world. As I taught, I have 15 years of ministry and pastor-type conversations and I could fill pages and pages of broken funk in the church family, but the ones that weighed me down today are the ones that are the freshest.

In the last year or so, I've lost several volunteers and a few students due to changes in our church or some unknown reason. I'd love to know, but they often just walk away.

  • two of them left with like a days notice.
  • three left without ever having a face-to-face conversation with me
  • when I call, several of them refused to answer and never returned my voice mails. I always quit after 3.
I never know what I'm going to say when and if I run into them. I have so much more respect and understanding for those who God moved on for one reason or another and actually tried to reconcile things before they left. Even if we agreed to disagree, at least there was closure.

Perhaps that's what I'm missing. Closure. Without ever officially telling me what or why, or refusing to do anything about it via conversations in the future, or a refusal to see if there's a way to fix it has left me feeling like the family is divided and reconciliation is not an option. From where I sit, that leaves me heavy hearted and feeling like a failure some days. I don't think it's the Body of Christ at it's best. I wonder sometimes if it's even the Body at all.


Friday, March 27, 2009


Ok... I might be twelve because the mere thought of this post already has me laughing.

The reason I've titled it as such is because today I posted the following on my twitter feed: "ate a skittle I found on my office floor, & based on the methane that just left me- it was laced with poison. paint is peeling off my walls"

This resulted in a slew of comments.  Since it also posts on my facebook status, that generated some comments, and a few old friends directly texted me too.  Been a while since anything I said generated that kind of response.  Methane is powerful stuff evidently.

  • 1 or 2 people reprimanded me for my juvenile behavior. At least I think it was a reprimand.  I was laughing at all the other stuff too hard to decipher if they were serious or sarcastic. 
  • Several of my old ministry students and volunteers piped in from my first decade in ministry.  These comments caused me to laugh out loud.   I guess I am still 12. 
"I've known you way too long and worked way too close to you to believe a skittle had anything to do with your gaseous stench!"

"I remember a little story of someone driving on a high school trip and locking the windows and letting one go...because his truck was full of girls who were chatting non stop."

"Your butt is the only one I know that can send everyone in a ski boat diving for safety in the water.  No poison skittle can do that ha ha :)" 

Oh man.  Maybe one day I'll grow up, but those memories are still super funny to me. 


Thursday, March 26, 2009


I was originally asked to teach a seminar on student leadership at PDYM this year but then a few weeks before they decided to drop the seminars and just have several of us share a 5 minute blurb.  Yeah, well in traditional Brian form, I think I tried to push 10 pounds of material into a 5 pound sack.  I'm not sure I actually breathed in the 5 minutes I was sharing.  I should have just dropped it and shared one point and one story... but I'm not that smart.

Anyway, I posted my thoughts and some downloadable resources over at the PDYM community site too.  So again, if you're one of the handful of youth pastors who read this blog, head over there and steal and tweak at will.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I'm part of a group of pastors who are committed to doing and help others do youth ministry that is healthy and helps kids find God at all different places in their spiritual journey.

To that end, I posted two posts on our community blog tonight.  If you work with students,

this one might make you laugh


you might be able to rip some ideas off this one.



I'm at the Purpose Driven Youth Ministry Conference and in a session on evangelism I was shown this video.  It echoed a recent conversation I had with our teaching pastor at Journey about Hell.  In which case, there was some irony in the discussion because some people who hold very passionately views about hell, don't talk about it with very many people- and it would seem it'd be something you'd warn EVERYONE about all the time.  We asked the question, "If you really believe this, then why aren't you telling everyone?"  I tried to ask myself that question too.  In light of that, this clip from self proclaimed atheist Penn of the "Penn and Teller show" is convicting, challenging, and inspiring.

So the question is:  If I believe what the Bible teaches to be true, then why would I ever apologize for taking the time to tell others about what it teaches? 


Monday, March 23, 2009


I've been teaching this gig around the country called YS One Day and has me flying around the country these days- which if you follow this blog is not news to you.  Anyway, it's about teaching the Bible to students and is four sessions long. The last one talks about ways to change up the "normal approaches" we have to teaching the Bible to students.  One of them is called "RECAST" and it's all about changing the medium in which the Bible passage is presented to students- so like putting the bible to music or art or whatever.

So, when I saw this rap of a southwest employee "recasting" the classic safety speach on a friends blog, it made me laugh and think of YS One Day too.  So incase this old news is new news to you, this is super funny.   My last trip to teach this seminar will be with southwest to Texas in April, so maybe I'll get to hear it first hand :)


Sunday, March 22, 2009


Evidently this is at least one of the themes of this years "reality television" craze.

Dancing with the Stars has one of Hugh Hefner's "number one girls", Holly Madison, who is thus "famous" cover girl whose bio on their website says she also directed, produced, and edited layouts for the magazines photo spreads. She was evidently the number one runner up for the show who stepped in when musician "Jewel" got injured and had to withdraw.

The Celebrity Apprentice has Brande Roderick who has also "dated Hugh Hefner", had her own cover days, and who they have tagged the screen each time she shows up with "playboy playmate" and a business woman based on her sexually charged business entities.

I guess porn really does pay. I guess the media thinks I should teach my high school students that Playboy Playmate is a viable career option that will make you "famous". Or maybe the producers don't care and are just trying to get rich and could give a rip what the message is they send.

Today I talked in Encounter about stuff God hates. I'm gonna go on record and say the exploitation of women for sexual pleasure and financially gain is on the list- consenting adults or not. God hates it and we love it. That's a problem.


Friday, March 20, 2009


I have more, and will blog some specific observations early next week, but for now.... here's some of my favorite pics from the last 2 days of my rookie experience in NYC with my dad:
Below you'll find our water taxi trip to the statue of liberty, skyline shots, the subway, central park, the uptown door of a condo I could live in if God made said I "have to" :), a random newly wed couple kissing on top of Rockefeller Center that should be in a disney film, and the skyline at sunset/dusk from the same building.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Welp, I've made my first trip to New York and to New York City.  I had to come without Shannon due to the craziness of 5 children and the added needs of our newest recruits, but we are celebrating our 15 year anniversary in June and she thinks we should return.  She thinks this a lot.  Maybe I can sell a kid or something and bring her back with me so we can explore some more together.

Anyway, here's what I'm learning in my 2 days of being a tourist and preparing for my 15 year anniversary evidently:

I KID YOU NOT... SWATCH IS STILL IN BUSINESS.  Virgin Mobile is closing, but Swatch Watch is still going strong like it's 1985.  Wow.

THERE IS A HARD ROCK CAFE IN EVERY MAJOR CITY IN THE WORLD.  And, there's enough memorabilia to fill 500 more evidently.  
HARD ROCK CAFE BELIEVES ALL "RELIGIONS" REALLY ARE THE SAME.... Elvis, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, all were sharing the same message.  Someone needs a history lesson.
YOU DON'T WANT A CAR IN NYC, cuz parking sucks so bad they stack em.
MACYS HAS BEEN IN NY SO LONG THEY HAVE WOODEN ESCALATORS.  Yep, like hardwood floor that moves.  Crazy nuts.  The wood worker in me so dug it.
TIME SQUARE HAS A HUGE ELECTRIC BILL... so much so that it could rival Vegas and I'm convinced- power the entire state of Montana.   Standing in the middle of the night feels like mid day there's so many massive lit up signs selling everything from food to movies to bras to news.
THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING AT NIGHT IS COOL.  You should see it then.  It's open til 2am.  You should NOT buy the lame-helicopter-pseudo-video-star-tours-look-a-like-thingamajig they are going to try and sell you.  It's great if you're 8.  After that, skip it.  My lovely friend Chuck Bomar told me this in a text 5 minutes AFTER we bought out tickets.  I'm saving you the pain.  Here's the pictures that prove the view from the top is so worth it though.

NYPD COPS ARE BORED.   They have signs everywhere saying they are watching you with video surveillance cameras and they are standing on virtually every street corner and if you go to the top of the Empire State Building, they are so bored they'll come buzz the tower and shine their lights and jack with the people for a photo op just for fun.  They did it twice while I was on the 86th floor.  Bored cops are fun.

CABS, CABS, CABS.  If you move to Manhattan, do not buy a yellow car.  DO NOT.  unless you like being whistled and yelled at.  Then rock on.



This morning I'm headed to New York City to hang with my dad for two days before teaching YS One Day on Saturday.

So, like a good air passenger, I have my laptop, my cell phone, my ipod, my carry on, and my java.

In the process of getting my java, I got a low fat lemon muffin.

In the process of peeing before getting on the plane, I placed my java and my bag on the nice shelf they give you above my conveniently placed urinal. So I did double duty and peed (is that a real word?) and read.

My muffin bag claims it:

  • flavors my senses. sweetens my disposition, stirs my imagination, and nourishes my dreams
Dang. That's one amazing muffin. I though it was talking about God for second.My coffee cup says:
  • Americans spend an average of 29 hours a week watching television- which menas in a typical life span we devote 13 uninterrupted years to our TV sets! The biggest problem with mass media isn't low quality, it's high quantity. Cutting down just an hour a day would provide extra years of life- for music and family, exercise and reading, conversation and coffee.- Michael Medved

Dang. That's a lot of TV. If you have 29 hours on average a week to burn. Please call me. I have LOTS of work for you. Oh... and I read a statistic the other day that said you actually burn more calories sleeping than you do watching TV. Haaa! I wonder if you burn more if you sleep while watching TV. If so, my grandma would have disappeared from earth instead of died.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Last summer we took a group of students to Uganda. It changed my family radically. It also, ironically changed not just the students we took on the trip, but a mom who we left behind.

So much so that she felt burdened to turn the hundreds and thousands of dollars that are given in a weekend soccer tournament into a weekend life changing opportunity by using ALL the proceeds to help the poor.

The result? This mom has worked ridiculously hard and created a fully functioning, fully sanctioned, local tournament for soccer in San Diego called Kick for Hope.

One mom. With One team of helpers. One vision. One passion. One dream. One unyielding drive towards her goal.

You go Kristin. I'm soooooo proud of you.

Here's the promo video which includes a shot of me, one of tyler, and several of our team in Uganda turned out great. Check it out and if you are a soccer mom or soccer coach or soccer lover- then bring a team or volunteer to serve or anything you can do to support this soccer tournament turned injustice fighting event.



Why do we bother to put time and effort into changing the background of our weekend series and giving hours to changing the decor of our weekend series?

Answer:  cuz it makes a difference when you walk in the room and see this.

(thanks to Randy Lipsey for a sweet job!  u r the man!)

Last weekend we kicked off our new series "Indignant". We talked about apathy and how important it is to care about the stuff God truly cares about by actually having a God honoring angst about the stuff that angers God.  Next week is injustice, followed by division, followed by deception on Easter.

I'm stoked about the difference I think this series could make in our students awareness of the sin in our world and why they should declare it "absolutely evil" and choose to stand it the way.  We could become some serious salt and light to some areas that are tasteless and dark in this world.  And.... we kicked off the series with a full house!  so cool.


Monday, March 16, 2009


Tyler is the man.

He just pulled out a sweet report card this quarter.

He just got an outstanding student award at school.

And he just graduated from Ms. Alicia's second level of piano classes. 




I put my "field trip dad" hat back on and resumed my responsibilities with my first field trip of 2009- a trip to Mission Trails with Tyler.  I've been before with TJ's class, but it was fun to go with Tyler.  But it's always wacky to me to hear some of the evolution junk the museuem teaches coupled with creation stories that claim the dirt is red cuz a coyote ate the heart of the dead creator and dripped blood everywhere turning the dirt blood colored.  Even Tyler thinks it's nuts.

Here's Ty's teacher, Mrs. Taylor, decked out like an outback tour guide.  Too funny.  She pointed out all kinds of plants and even circled the "scat" she found on the trail for kids so they could observe it.  Ha!  Pretty much all dog poop.

Here's the motley crew of 4 I was responsible for.

Here's the whole class after lunch down by the river.

here's a pic of Ty and I bonding.  Love this kid.



Today I became the technology teacher for my bride.

  • new macbook arrived last week for shannon.
  • added all the programs she needed.
  • merged all our contacts, calendars, music, and pictures onto her computer.
  • taught her how to put music, pictures, and custom apps on her iphone.
  • helped her get a facebook profile rolling
  • put an app to update her twitter via her iphone.
  • helped her figure out how to update twitter and facebook simultaneously.
  • taught her how to put pics on facebook via iphoto
  • taught her how to upload pics onto her computer via her phone and digital camera.
that's a full day of teaching :)

Last week my wife did her own teaching.  She's teaching Becky and Billy to read, count, and sort stuff at home.  Today we met with the principal and officially withdrew them from the docs of the public school for this year.  Homeschool it is until August 24th when they will join the ranks of 1st grade with the rest of our community at Rancho.  Until then, Shannon's been hard at work:  
  • turned kitchen table into kindergarten school room
  • converted cupboards into school bulletin board
  • sang songs every morning to two kindergarten kids
  • taught them the sounds associated with letters a thru g.
  • taught them how to paint.
  • earned the status of mommy/teacher/superwoman

that's a fuller day of teaching.  she wins.   my kids are lucky.



Go figure.

I'm in church yesterday and we're playing this random fact game of sorts about apathy and someone says something about how we should send a text to "cha cha" to find out if this one fact is true. Evidently you can send a text msg to "242242" asking any question you want and you'll get an answer.

I was in disbelief. But I'm the only one. Like 75% of my students have it preloaded into their phone's memory already.

Then a student blurted out, "yeah, I used it to cheat on a test once".

Great. Just great. Now students can text a question and google gives them the answer via text.

Out of curiosity, I said, what happens if the question is really lame? Do you still get an honest answer. So I had a kid text this: "how do I dial 911?"

Cha Cha replied: "press 9. then press 1. The press 1 again on your phone keypad."



Thursday, March 12, 2009


For our Ugandan Adoption process, we need to turn in family updates with pictures a few times a year for the forseeable future.

So I was asked to have my first one done tonight. With a ton to do, I jumped on my mac and decided to try a product that comes with iwork.  I just got it recently because I needed keynote for the ys one day presentations and it came bundled with it.  But I have never used it before, so I was wondering how it'd go.  It's called "pages" and yeah... Oh my...  Talk about simple!!!!

I just opened a new doc and picked a template (turned out to be the same one they have on their web page ad. )  I opened the page, skipped the tutorial, dropped in 5 pics directly from iphoto, changed the text in the blocks and whalla.... instant family newsletter. Took me 15 minutes and looks like I spent 15 hours. 

Oh I love my mac, and pages is the best!  Here's a jpeg of my 15 minute project. 



First of all. The word "rhythm" must be spelled wrong. If you stare at it long enough, you'll go crazy thinking it is not right.

Second of all... I've been thinking a lot about rhythms. I've been thinking that I need rhythms. And ever since we left for Uganda, it seems like I've been jacking with my rhythms in life.

Here's a few it's been good to restart and a few I'm still trying to get back in order:


  • DAD BONDING: Meeting with TJ every wednesday for some breakfast and bonding has been good again. Tomorrow is my re-entry into the world of field trip Dad. Tyler and I are going to Mission Trails.
  • SCHOOLING: Becky and Billy finally have a school rhythm. We ended up pulling them from the public school scenario and home schooling them so that they can finish Kindergarten this year and begin 1st grade next year. Hopefully next week they'll start to go to the kitchen table in the morning with Shannon and spend the afternoons at our local elementary school getting acclimated to new peers and group learning structures

    • BILLS: I hate bills. But I finally got back on track with them after being wacky from being gone for a month and prepaying them and yatta yatta.
    • READING: I've gotten back on track with a reading plan. Still a little sketchy, but it's way better than the non-existent one I had going there for a while.
    • BASIC HOME LIFE: I make breakfasts and lunches. I drive the kids to school. I come home for dinners as often as I can and do baths and stories and watch episodes of Planet Earth and yatta yatta. It's enough of a rhythm that Becky and Billy can even start to tell you what is next and how it works with some measure of predictablity.

    • EXCERCISE: I've been able to catch a run or play some indoor here and there, but I've still yet to figure out how to get back into a consistent excercise rhythm.
    • DATING MY WIFE: Our date day was Monday mornings. Yeah, well now we have 2 kids at home again on Mondays. We need a new date day. Maybe Monday afternoons will work if the kids go to school in the afternoons. If not, we need to figure this one out. The whole childcare thing is just plain too expensive. Our dates become paying a sitter so we can sit somewhere without kids. It's refreshing at times, but not all it could be.
    • SCHEDULE: I've come home to a wacky work schedule of weekends and conferences and such. Part of that is wacky and part of that is normal if I'm honest with myself. Saying yes to the right things and no to the wrong things is even more critical these days. It still feels like some stuff is out of rhythm here.
    • WRITING: I had a writing rhythm going for a while. It's about time to kick that one into gear again too.
    • BUDGET: 5 kids and Shannon not working this Spring means we need to rethink this a little.


Thursday, March 05, 2009


For what seems like forever, I've been going to the leadership summit via satelite in various churches. In nor cal we literally went all over the bay area to see it at my last church and now for the past 4 years, I've been able to join journey at it in our own backyard as we host it.

It always rocks my world and challenges my thinking and makes me step it up a notch.

Today in the office I let a webcast of this years "speaking faculty" play in the background. Dang. I got fired up already. If there was a year I'd like to go see it live in Chicago, this is the year.

They still haven't put Barry C. Black on it yet, but perhaps someday they will.

In the mean time. I'm stoked to hear from this line up. I love hearing from Hybels, but I literally can't wait to hear from the others I put in bold italics below. Gonna be SWEET!!!!

  • Bill Hybels, Founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL.
  • Dr. Henry Cloud, Clinical psychologist, author, and business consultant
  • Carly Fiorina, Former chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, business commentator, and strategic advisor
  • Dr. David Ireland, Founder and senior pastor of Christ Church, Montclair, NJ
  • Patrick Lencioni, Business consultant, author, and president of The Table Group, Inc.
  • Gary Hamel, Renowned business thinker and visiting professor at London School of Business
  • Dr. Tim Keller, Author, Founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Manhattan, NY
  • Jessica Jackley, Co-founder of, the world's first peer-to-peer online micro-lending website
  • Harvey Carey, Founder and senior pastor of Citadel of Faith Covenant Church, Detroit, MI
  • Dave Gibbons, Author, Founder and lead pastor of Newsong Church, Irvine, CA
  • David Gergen, Political analyst for CNN and PBS and former White House adviser to four presidents
  • Dan Heath, Author, consultant, and co-founder of Thinkwell
  • Chip Heath, Author, consultant, and professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business
  • Andrew Rugasira, Founder of Good African Coffee and African trade advocate
  • Bono, Lead singer of U2 and activist in the fight against AIDS and poverty in Africa
  • Wess Stafford, President and CEO of Compassion International
You can check out some of their bios and see some videos here. But if you're leadership of any kind, man.... I can't imagine why you'd miss the chance on August 6th and 7th to be challenged by this team of world changing men and women from around the globe. There is nothing quite like it.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009


TJ and Tyler both got new desks recently. TJ when I remodeled his room. Tyler when he moved in with TJ. Becky got one that used to be Shannon's as a kid, then was Tylers, and finally after some of our dedicated family refinished and painted white to match her room, became hers.

That left only Jake and Billy short desks. My plan was to build a custom wall unit, but on a whim, I decided to see if I could save myself some time and money and modify something I could get at IKEA instead. I was going to make it out of birch plywood, so making it out of birch particle board is a small shift anyway I guess.

So, Monday I bought the pieces and tonight I finished the final touches. Here it is. Both Billy and Jake are very excited.

wanna make your own? here's the parts list:


Monday, March 02, 2009


Before we left for Africa, the team I was coaching for Tyler won the championship for our AYSO division 168. This meant that instead of their season ending, it kept going and they were going to the Section 11 tournament. So, while I was in Africa, they were coached by the division boys play rep, Dan Blunt. He's a great coach and I was so thankful for his help.

When we came home on time, it was supposed to be perfect. Just 7 days away, and while I couldn't miss any more Sundays, it did mean that I could go to the Saturday games because I was commitment free. However, that perfect timing was met by rain and subsequently canceled. Ugh. It then got rained out a second weekend and finally was rescheduled for this last weekend.

Well, that was a total bummer for me because I had previous commitments to be out of town on Saturday teaching a YS One Day seminar in Utah. So, while I loved teaching, I hated missing Tyler's game and a team that I'd worked so hard to support, coach, and encourage.

So, on Saturday Shannon was texting me moment-by-moment updates on games. They lost their first one but won their second. That resulted in an 8am game on Sunday that I also missed while teaching at church, and I again got the play by play texted to me and they tied. The consequence of that meant that they were in the finals at 12:30, fighting for 3rd or 4th place.

As soon as church was over and I was done teaching in HS on Sunday, I bolted to Tyler's final game in San Marcos. I arrived about 10 minutes into their final game. I was so glad I made it for the little I did and for the awards ceremony. Yahooo. Even though they lost their final game, they still walked away winners with medals and all. Of the 400ish teams in AYSO in southern california in Tyler's age bracket, they took 4th at the end of their season. Pretty respectable.

In my absence, TJ was our photographer. Here's some of his handy work. Not bad son. Not bad.



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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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